Motorcycling – a Spiritual Metaphor
by Darwyn Boucher
By the time I was 50, I had boats, collector cars, quads, RVs and host of other toys and hobbies enough to fill any Man Cave Toy Box. All of which I ‘thought’ would bring me joy. The last toy in the Toy box was a motorcycle – mostly because I didn’t have one. I started riding again. I hadn’t ridden a motorcycle in 30 years and enjoyed it each and every time. I can’t tell you why I enjoyed it – I just did. Then, the why became clear. The best way to explain the why is with an image. Picture a dog with his head out the window of a moving car and wind in his face. The dog is full of life and bursting at the seams with joy. It’s a visceral reaction not an intellectual response. It’s something I feel and not something I think. The wind is a great therapist. When riding the gentle winding curves of the road, my mind is clear and a great sense of joy and calm comes over me, I’m in the moment – it’s a moving meditation. My meditation cushion is attached to a 900-pound Harley Davidson Road King. Spiritual Metaphor # 1 – Just do what brings you bliss.
Over time, I rode my motorcycle more and to the point where the other Big Boy toys were gathering dust or requiring maintenance from lack of use. So I sold them. Not having the other toys around meant more time for biking. I recently packed for a 2-week motorcycle trip in 15 minutes. My total packing space available would qualify as carry on for most airplanes. Every night on a bike trip I take everything I have into a new hotel room in 2 minutes. It is so freeing not having all that stuff to pack, unpack, carry, organize and not forget. I was very comfortable on my bike trip. Not having to deal with the liability of stuff gave me more time to do anything else I love. The jaw dropping moment is arriving home. I have more than one home and each is outfitted traditionally. In that moment, I realized I could have lived off my motorcycle for a long time – and I wanted for nothing. Why do I have these home(s) with all this stuff? What can I purge? Spiritual Metaphor #2 – Live more simply.
There is a fixed amount of space on my bike and as a result, I choose the items wisely. To illustrate, I will use footwear as an example. On the bike, I have the boots on my feet and a pair of sandals – that’s it. My boots need to be warm in cold weather and cool in warm weather. The boots require vents that open and insulation that makes them warm but also keeps them cool. As well, they need be dry in wet weather and breathe on hot days. They need to be durable for protection, yet light and comfortable to walk. They must be satisfactory in appearance and provide great fit and comfort for day after day use. I shopped for a year at countless stores for my new pair of boots. As space is limited, I contemplate my purchases more thoroughly and because of this careful consideration, I take great care of my new boots. As my old boots don’t have a place on the bike and were not put in the back of the closet, they were donated. I cannot add an item to my bike without taking an item away – what a great way to live. When space is limited, purchases are very deliberate, well thought out and not impulsive. I can comfortably live for a long period on a motorcycle but if I were to move homes I would need a semi truck and 50 foot trailer(s)? Spiritual Metaphor # 3 – Be a conscious consumer.
On the most recent motorcycle trip we put on 7000 kms in 14 days on the road. We had days of 900 kms and days of 50 kms. We do not have an itinerary, only a navigation direction. This trip was pointed towards New Orleans and ended up in the Ozark Mountains. Bike trips are all about the journey not the itinerary or destination. It is truly amazing what happens when we don’t have a travel plan, but show up every morning between 7 and 8 a.m. ready to ride. I cannot intellectually explain what happens when I put on the biker costume. I don’t know if it is others’ reaction to the costume or my reaction to the costume. Some people react like they are fearful and can’t wait to get away. While others – complete strangers not fitting any discernable profile – come up to ask where we are headed, tell us their favorite local route, good places to eat, interesting sites to checkout and roads that are under construction or closed. We are open to serendipitous signposts as much as the road signs when travelling. A weather system was the main reason for pointing the bike in a different direction and as it turned out (again), we found places, routes, people and experiences that were much better than ever imagined. What would my life be like if I took this approach every day? Maybe – just maybe – the costume I wear is in my day-to-day life, not when I’m authentically on the motorcycle. Spiritual Metaphor #4 – Be Open to Serendipitous Sign Posts and wear a costume that allows you to be authentic.
Motorcycling – like life – has inherent risks. I have had near misses on the motorcycle. On a couple of occasions I have unconsciously given a traffic offender the one finger wave with gusto, before mindfully being thankful no one was hurt. Reacting to life events with a “could be good – could be bad” perspective is work for me. It takes trust that things will turn out as they are meant to be. In my case, the rewards of riding outweigh the risks. I believe that, in life, the number of times your breath is taken away is more important than the number of breathes you take. Spiritual Metaphor #5 – Have Faith.
Here’s hoping that you also find something that gives you the same joy and spiritual ah ha’s that I find riding my motorcycle.
Darwyn Boucher is a senior student in the spiritual transformation program of IIT and operates Waldorf Ranch in Saskatchewan. You can contact Darwyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.